Sunday, 20 March 2016

Robots

As long as I can remember I've been fascinated by the concept of robots.

Back when I was a child in the 1970s, the future seemed a very exciting place. In a school topic about what would life be like in the Year 2000, I remember drawing and describing the robot of the future that would do everything for us in that far off, futuristic time.

It's strange how the Year 2000 seemed so space age, yet now, it's almost in the nostalgia category, some 16 years in the rear view mirrors. And all those predictions we made about living on Mars, robots giving us a life of luxury and getting all of our food needs from a small pill have proved rather wide of the mark. And I'm not surprised about the last one. Can you imagine no longer wolfing down crisps, chocolate and kebabs any more but just having some boring little pill instead? Bloody hell, there's few enough pleasures in life as it is when we're working all the time, bringing up kids, and generally coping with the stress of modern life. Popping off to the vending machine at work used to be one of the few pleasures I had to get me through the day. When my boss had just given me a load of bullshit about hitting sales targets and the need to work late, somehow it all seemed better with a Toffee Crisp.

Anyway, robots. They didn't develop as fast as we were led to believe. I read all the Asimov stuff as a teenager and then a real life robot turned up as companion on Doctor Who - I don't mean K9, but Kamelion, a fully functional robot, so we were led to believe. In fact, according to the production team it was a nightmare that never worked properly and had to be mercifully killed off after two stories.

Since then we've heard all manner of things about robots doing this, that and the other in the home, but progress has remained painfully slow. Which is very disappointing. I really didn't think I'd still be having to scrub the floor and clean the bog in 2016. Until now, it seems, when we really do seem to be getting somewhere.

I have imagined the robot world of the future a great deal. I wrote about it extensively in my novel "Man Out Of Time" in which I imagined a future where robots married humans, gained rights and even became the subject of problem page letters in The Sun: "My robot's cheating on me!"

Because, let's face it, whatever you may read about robots being used for housework etc, we all know what robots are really going to be used for. People are going to have sex with them. And if you think that's crude, well consider this. When the internet came along, we were all told it was the information superhighway and it would revolutionise the world (which it did). But what was the single biggest thing people used it for? (then and now) Porn. And as for having sex with robots not being natural, that hasn't stopped people interacting with all manner of rubber and plastic objects for pleasure since they were invented (and probably a lot longer with the natural equivalents before that).

And why not? Think of all those single, lonely people out there who can't find a partner for whatever reason. Why not get a robot, who won't pass them over because of their physical imperfections or because they are a single parent and they don't want the baggage? A robot who loves all the same things as you do, who never says no and always does the washing up.

That's assuming they don't rebel of course. Robot rights? It could be the 21st century equivalent of the feminist movement. Stranger things have happened.


Sophia, one of the most sophisticated robots yet developed.

None of this will affect me personally, as I don't plan to have sex with a robot. No, instead, I am actually going to become one. The technology is only a few decades away when we'll be able to upload our brains into the cloud before our physical bodies die. Then we can download them again into a new body - either a robot one, or perhaps a clone of our original one with implants and enhancements. A bit like the Cybermen in Doctor Who but in a good way i.e. without all the going round saying "delete" and killing people.

I personally would go for a robot/ flesh hybrid of myself, probably aged about 40 when I was at my most handsome, with a few inches removed from the waistline and a few other imperfections (such as my appallingly bad eyesight) ironed out. A few new teeth would be handy too, assuming I could still eat, which hopefully I would - I am sure it's possible to design some sort of digestive system. Doubtless some males would enhance themselves "down below" too, but to be honest I am quite happy with what nature blessed me in that department. There's no point in making myself unnecessarily cramped in my underwear, it's bad enough getting comfortable on my sofa as it is. Though if I was to make any adjustments in that area, I guess a faster recovery window might come in useful at some point.

All I need to do now is keep myself alive long enough for the technology to become available and hope to become rich enough to afford it!

Here's a video of Sophia (thanks Nat, for sending me this): https://www.facebook.com/cnbcinternational/videos/749203651847444/

Friday, 18 March 2016

Under surveillance?

A few eerie things have made me start to wonder just how much we are being watched by the powers that be these days. Uh-oh, I hear you say - this is not going to be some sort of wild conspiracy theorist blog entry is it?

Well, yes and no...

In the old days it was pretty straightforward. You could pop into Curry's and have a browse around the fridges at your leisure without having to worry. Other than being bothered by some 18 year old geek in an ill fitting Burtons suit sensing a possible commission on an extended warrant for £199.99, even though the fridge only cost £250 in the first place.

But it's all different now. Most of us must have realised by now that whatever we do on the internet leaves a trace. Have a harmless browse around a few DVD's on Amazon and before you know it your Facebook will be full of ads suggesting you go and buy whatever you've been looking at.

OK, that's fair enough. But how do you explain this? My faithful old Panasonic bread maker is nearing the end of it's life, I fear. The paddle and the bowl are in a very poor state but that's not surprising really. I've been making about five loaves a week in it now for about 12 years, so it's done sterling service. But now it's dying and so it came to pass that I was discussing the situation with my wife earlier. Probably not the most enthralling conversation ever but but being domesticated, married for eight years and on the cusp of middle age you'd be surprised the things one finds to talk about to keep the magic alive! Anyway, the spooky thing about all this is that on settling down to the computer tonight as one does in the internet age, ads for Panasonic bread makers started popping up all over the place. In fact it wouldn't surprise me if one appeared in the middle of this blog now just because I've mentioned it.

Buy me now! You want a bread maker! You know you do!


How did it know? Have Google developed some new highly intrusive device that can see into our houses and listen in on our conversations? Is the computer itself or one of our phones doing it? Every time I turn my phone on it keeps trying to get me to use this voice activated thing, S-Voice or something but there's fat chance of that. I haven't even found the buttons yet to make a phone call.

That's not all. I've been reading Karl Pilkington's latest book on the toilet the last week or two (about the place I can enjoy an uninterrupted read these days), but what do I find on my Facebook feed when I return to the laptop? Ads for Karl's "The Moaning Of Life" series 2 and bog roll. I can't even begin to come up with an explanation for that one.

That's just the internet, but what about one's private life in general? A particularly crude phrase I have often heard bandied about around here is "You can't even fart in Bicester without someone knowing about it". Personally, I would dispute that. On my way back from Nash's the other morning after a large sausage and bacon bap, I let one off down Crown Walk, just opposite WHSmith's. I looked around carefully to see that there was no-one within earshot (or noseshot) first, obviously, but I'm pretty sure I got away with it. I checked on Facebook later and no-one had posted about it on the Bicester Have A Rant page. When I looked back I saw someone coming out of the opticians wrinkling his nose, but I was far enough from the scene of the crime by then to be beyond suspicion. He was an old geezer anyway, so probably not on Facebook.

However, it's amazing the things people do know. I was bemoaning the terrible state of my eyesight these days and that I can't see bugger all anymore to some bloke in the pub and he remarked that it must be down to all the wanking I did as a teenager. I was initially flabbergasted - how could he know such a personal thing? But then in hindsight, thinking about it, if that were true, the entire male population of the world would be blind by the time they got to my age. And probably most of the women as well these days, what with all these rabbits and everything.

I'm moving house in the next couple of weeks, so perhaps I'll be safe for a while. Then again, it's a new build so it's probably got a highly sophisticated fibre optic network concealed in the walls monitoring my every move and automatically sending me deliveries of Pizza, kebabs, and anything else my body language has led it to believe I require. Actually, maybe it's not that bad after all.

In fact, as someone who sells myself for a living (not like a prossie, but in novel format), what I really need Big Brother to do is bombard everybody who reads this blog with links to my novels to get them to buy them. Might as well get the system working for me. I won't prostitute myself any further by shamelessly shoving in a book link here to try and get a sale, I figure most of you have either bought them by now or never will. Instead, as it's getting late in the evening let's merely raise our glasses and say "Cheers". Mine's got red wine in it so if the webcam spots it I expect I'll be seeing some ads from Majestic Wine as soon as I navigate off this site.

Cheers!